2 min Read
October 18, 2012

Increasing your social media impact through data and measurement

Big Duck Intern

This blog post was written by our Strategy Intern, Natasha Winegar. When she is not strategizing at Big Duck she is a graduate student at Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School. You can follow her on Twitter @natashawinegar.

Do the words data and measurement scare you a bit? Don’t worry – it isn’t as scary as it seems. Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine explain it all in their new book Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World. Last week a bunch of Ducks headed over to the book release at 501TechNYC to hear from the authors.

Beth and KD explained that whether your nonprofit is already using social media or is still trying to figure out which tools make sense for you, harnessing the power of data and measuring that data are key to creating big impact through social media networks. To be a success, your nonprofit must be networked, be data-informed, and use measurement.

Here are my key takeaways from their great discussion:

  • Define your strategy, then pick your tools. You need to know your goals, audience, and what you are trying to measure before you pick a tool.
  • Lead with a networked mindset. Think collectively, develop your networks, and integrate data into your organization’s way of doing things. This is a cultural shift, not a program.

  • Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly. Beth and KD use this model to outline the stages that a nonprofit takes to become more networked, data-driven, and measurable. Baby steps are okay – we all start with them. Even little ducks don’t start flying right away – they have to learn. The key is to keep moving forward and keep learning.

  • Ask why, why, why. It isn’t enough to just observe your data, you have to understand it. Measuring your data helps you make sense of it. It is great that your Facebook traffic went up last week, but you have to understand why it went up. Beth and KD’s advice: ask why 3x.

  • Listen to your data and learn from it. If the data shows that the event you plan every year just isn’t getting results, stop doing it. As Beth and KD put it, “stop doing stupid stuff.” It is ok to fail. Your organization can learn a lot from its failures.

  • 5 stages of measurement acceptance. Are you in denial that measuring your data is important? Perhaps you are afraid – after all, this involves numbers! Or maybe a bit confused about how to do all this. You’re not alone. According to Beth and KD, there are 5 stages to accepting the importance of measurement: denial, fear, confusion, delight, and data-informed.

Networking and measurement require time and investment. People and knowledge are key to making it all happen.

Take a gander at their book tour slides:

Please add anything I missed in the comments below! For more great tips and insights into measuring your nonprofit’s social media impact, attend a book tour event near you and check out their book.